Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020, Erik Agard and Jeff Chen


To give you an idea of the kind of day I had, I spent over two hours at the Albany DMV, waiting to get my “enhanced” driver’s license. There were maybe five people working the counters, and probably a hundred people waiting. Everybody got a ticket at the door with a letter-number combination. But not all in the same groups. For some reason, there were people with T200, some with Q400, and my group, with U800. Some had C10, and others were just 4010 and following. It was completely unknowable how soon you would be called. Why? Nobody knows.

Likely protests would have gone unrewarded, or worse, unnoticed. Even if I wanted to TAKEAKNEE, the floor was not inviting for the risk of making my pants dirty. Fortunately, I got to return home and do the puzzle, where the theme answers literally take the sound “nee” to make a new word or phrase.

Thus, 21A: Word following sing or play, which should elicit “along,” instead gets NIALONG, the well known actress from Fresh Prince and Boyz n the Hood. I’m glad I looked her up, because I got her confused with Nia Vardalos. The best of the answers was 27A: Language that’s the source of “gesundheit” (JOURNEYMAN). The original term, German, gets a complete makeover with the addition of the “nee” sound. HONEYBEE is pretty good too. And, let’s be honest, BROWNIE’s good too, because chocolate.

Silly me! I was wondering why GENEALOGY would be the answer for 34D: Study of rocks. But it’s another theme answer, hidden in the down direction (geology). Very nice!

I also liked INUKTITUT, because that’s some great crazy looking letters, and EXAMTABLE is nice as well. And this puzzle wins for best clue for old crossword standbys with 62A: It has cork and a bell (OBOE). I’ve got nothing to remember to ask Horace and Frannie about today.

- Colum


  1. 25:34
    I loved the clue for OBOE, too, but I didn't get the theme until the revealer, so I was having a tough time understanding how the theme answers made any sense, but it turns out the struggle was worth it. TOETAP is good, although it's something I don't do in practice when I ATTEND concerts. I previously (decades ago) had a tape of "Live at LEEDS" but it was lost to getting "eaten" by one of my car stereos and never replaced. I recently (within the last few years) purchased the deluxe edition of the album that contains a great many more selections from the concert (in fact, probably the entire concert) as opposed to the original album which had six songs on it. I wonder if I'd still enjoy a bowl of APPLEJACKS.

  2. D.N.F.

    I'm in the middle of an existential crossword crisis. I tried to zip through this one, but ended up totally missing 27A. At one point, I had _E_MAN at the end, and since I knew the source of "gesundheit," it was impossible for me to give up "___gErMAN," especially since gETS kind of worked for "Ends up with." Sigh...

    I understood that "NI" was being added, but I didn't quite understand that it was only an aural theme, and that the exact letters didn't have to be perfect. And by that I mean, in NIALONG, the letters "ni" could be isolated from "along," which I considered perfect. And even in BROWNIE, you could have "brow" and "nie." It bothered me slightly that one was "ni" and the other "nie," but I guess I figured it was close enough. When I got to JOURNEYMAN, all bets were off.

    Oh well.

    On the upside, I like that the trend of mentioning us continued, even when there was nothing to mention. Which reminds me to mention to you, Colum, that yesterday your suggestion that readers consult the glossary for an explanation of HAFDTNYTCPFCA prompted me to edit the glossary to include that acronym! Thanks! :)

  3. I meant to mention that I recently went for my "Real ID" license at the local AAA office (we can do that in MA). I got there a few minutes prior to opening and was first in line. I timed the process and it took eight minutes from walking through the door to walking out of the door. I'm sorry that Colum had such a negative experience. That would not have made me happy.